VHS Drama Teacher and The Great Gatsby Director, Cassandra Trascik

The Great Gatsby has taken on many forms over the years- capturing the glamour of the 1920s, and the hearts of generations. The newest group to gain an appreciation for this American classic are the approximately 20 Venice High School students who are working to perform and produce the play in the VPAC from November 1st through 3rd.

I sat down with Director and VHS Drama Teacher, Cassandra Trascik, to learn more about her and what led her to teaching.

What made you want to be a teacher? 

Theatre students can be some of the most creative, thoughtful, and bold young people to work with.  Giving them the tools they need to succeed in theatre and to understand and value themselves and the world around them.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

Watching the students make discoveries about their character and themselves.  Those breakthroughs are always exciting.

What would you tell a student who is considering joining your program? 

Theatre is a place where anyone can belong.  It is an open and welcoming program that can help you develop your skills in theatre but also to build confidence, self awareness,  compassion for others, and challenge you to become the best version of yourself.  It is a great place to express yourself and the things going on in your life that may be hard to understand.

What do you want your students to know by the time they leave high school?

That they are valuable and enough just as they are.  That there is no one else like them and that is such a gift.  I also want them to be able to look at life through the eyes of someone different from themselves.

What advice would you give students who want to continue to study the performing arts?

Always keep learning.  You are always changing and growing and in that way who you are as an actor and performing artist is always changing too.

How do you think taking your class helps students who don’t want to study the performing arts after high school?

It is a great place to explore or build your creativity.  Many businesses today are looking for employees who can “think outside the box” and come to creative solutions to problems.  It is also a great place to learn how to work as a team, to be accountable, and to take risks.

What are some pieces you are performing this year, and are there interesting facts about them the community should know?

Our Fall Play is The Great Gatsby.  This show is challenging for both our acting and technical theatre students.  I think the audiences will enjoy seeing this classic story and this era portrayed by our students on stage.  And I think the message of the play will touch theatre goers of all ages. Our Spring Play will be a Shakespeare production which is so exciting.  I think it is the first Shakespeare play performed here by Venice High School students.  They are so excited to get started and create a fun and accessible Shakespeare production.

Trascik poses with students during Student Summer Theatre’s production in 2018.

Ms. Trascik performing in “Philadelphia Story”

This is the first school year play directed by Trascik, and the students are excited to be learning from their new teacher.  Rachel Nickols, VHS senior, plays The Police Officer in Gatsby.  “I love that no matter what character a cast member is playing, Ms. Trascik makes sure everyone gets the same attention when developing their characters, even if they are not playing a leading role.”

Fiona Coffey, a VHS senior who plays Mrs. Michalis, says that performing The Great Gatsby has helped her connect with the community.  “Its really fun doing a play that so many people have heard of and its really cool that the community is excited for the show.”  Jenna Fisher, another VHS senior, who is the Stage Manager for The Great Gatsby, agrees.  “Working with Ms. Tracsik on The Great Gatsby has been such a great experience. She has created an awesome sense of community with the whole department and other theatres in the area.”

The Drama Department is always looking for help from the community.  “Our community can help with fundraising, getting donations of costumes, props, furniture,” says Trascik.  “If you are a skilled builder, painter, costumer, or makeup and hairstylist we can always use your help on shows or doing workshops with students.” For The Great Gatsby, local hair salon James Griffith donated their time to teach students how to do their 1920’s style hair.

The Great Gatsby is $5 and can be seen on the VPAC stage November 1st-3rd, 2019